More Pay to Play in Harrisburg?

John Micek does some digging on the House Democrats $28,000 contract with a head hunting firm, as reported yesterday:

House Democrats defended the contract, which was awarded without a competitive bid, saying the firm had come highly recommended, boasted a national reputation and had agreed to a lower price.

Democrats also claimed they’d taken the unusual step of engaging an outside firm because they wanted to avoid the taint of politics in a caucus that has been rocked by controversy for months.

With the exception of it being awarded without a competitive bid, it doesn’t sound too outlandish, as the firm was used to hire a replacement for someone indicted in “bonus-gate”.  And they would have gotten away with it too, it if hadn’t been for those meddling kids and their dog, or in this case, investigative reporting.  Micek writes:

Turns out the company’s president, Simone Gans Barefield, is married to one Ernest Barefield, a former aide to Philadelphia Mayor Wilson Goode, and a longtime lobbyist for the city, several knowledgable people called to inform us yesterday.  …

For the sake of thoroughness, we can report that Simone Gans Barefield donated $2,750 to Evans’ various campaign committees in 2005 and 2006. A firm run by Ernest Barefield, Barefield & Associates, donated $9,800 to Philadelphia politicians of both parties between 2002 and 2008, campaign finance records show.

Taken together, that’s a total of $12,250 in contributions, which is a drop in the bucket when it’s compared against the truly epic amounts of money habitually raised by Pennsylvania politicians. We’ll leave it to people far smarter than us to decide whether there’s a causal relationship between the contributions and the awarding of a contract.

None of that seems truly scandalous, unless, like me, you’re still wondering why they are handing out contracts without competitive bidding.